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Thursday, February 5, 1998 Published at 12:45 GMT



UK

Diana crash airbags puzzle
image: [ Diana's car may have had a series of collisions before it finally hit the 13th pillar in the tunnel ]
Diana's car may have had a series of collisions before it finally hit the 13th pillar in the tunnel

Reports say that the magistrate investigating the crash that killed Princess Diana is looking into what role, if any, was played by the airbags of the Mercedes in which she was travelling.

The airbags in the car had already deployed and deflated when the vehicle crashed, according to the French tabloid Parisien Libere.


[ image:  ]
Quoting from a medical report, the paper said the airbags could already have been deflated when the Mercedes hit the 13th pillar of a tunnel under the Place de l'Alma in central Paris on August 31 last year.

The newspaper said that Herve Stephan, the magistrate investigating the crash in which Diana, her lover Dodi al-Fayed and driver Henri Paul died, had ordered a probe into whether the airbags had been set off by a previous collision or by accident.

The investigation has so far revealed that Mr Paul was drunk behind the wheel and was speeding at the time of the accident.

The Parisien said a report by an expert in traumatic injuries at the Pitie-Salpetriere hospital, where a vain attempt was made to save Diana, concluded that injuries to the face of bodyguard and crash survivor Trevor Rees-Jones, were consistent with several collisions in quick succession.


[ image: The airbags in the Mercedes may have inflated before the final impact]
The airbags in the Mercedes may have inflated before the final impact
A side collision could have activated the airbags, which might have been already deflating when the car hit the 13th pillar head-on, with fatal consequences, the newspaper said.

It said Rees-Jones was first hit in the right side of the head in the first collision while the airbag protected the front of his face.

The medical report was quoted as saying that the extent of Rees-Jones's injuries "in a robust vehicle equipped with seatbelts and airbags indicates that successive impacts, including the final one, occurred at very high speed, when the airbag was deflating."

French police are still seeking the driver of a white Fiat Uno believed to have been clipped by the Mercedes in the Alma underpass shortly before its final crash.
 





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